With Thanksgiving arriving tomorrow and winter officially just around the corner, it may seem hard to think about next summer. But some local athletic organizers and city officials are. That's because Gloucester will host a major triathlon that's being viewed as a showcase for the city that has not held that type of outdoor race in the past.
"We had a very productive meeting with Mayor Kirk last week," said Gloucester native and professional triathlete Janda Ricci-Munn. "She seemed very supportive. We're working closely with the Gloucester Fishermen Athletic Association and the City Council. There's a lot of logistics to cover, but I'm 100 percent confident in saying that we'll have a race."
The Gloucester Triathlon is the brainchild of Ricci-Munn and Bill Burnett of Cohasset. The two met last summer at the Cohasset Triathlon where Burnett was the race director. After talking with Ricci-Munn, who was competing that day, the pair decided to create an event in Ricci-Munn's beloved hometown of Gloucester.
"I'd been kicking this idea around for 10 years and, after doing the race in Cohasset, I thought Bill did such a tremendous job and I appreciated how well the race was run," Ricci-Munn said.
Ricci-Munn called Cohasset "one of the best short courses I have been to." As it turned out, Burnett was looking to expand his race series from Cohasset and Marlborough to a third Massachusetts community, and Gloucester seemed a perfect fit from the get-go.
"When I saw Janda signed up for Cohasset, I was thrilled to have him there," remembered Burnett. "I talked to him before the race and afterward we exchanged e-mails."
A former All-American swimmer and experienced triathlete himself, Burnett had never been to Gloucester before Ricci-Munn took him on a prospective tour in July.
"I knew immediately that this is an incredible spot for a triathlon," Burnett said. "It's a really good community. It's huge to have him involved, he's so proud of his town. He wants to inspire an active living lifestyle."
"We want to use the downtown setting for spectators and the athletes," Ricci-Munn explained. "Gloucester is a venue like none other. Usually triathlons are held out in the sticks, away from spectators."
Burnett works in sales during the day but his real passion lies in race directing. He's organized the Cohasset Triathlon the past two summers, when 1,000 athletes participated and each paid an $80 entrance fee. Portions of the proceeds from the Gloucester Triathlon will help support the Gloucester Fishermen Athletic Association and the Wellspring House, in conjunction with the Pine Street Inn in Boston.
The Gloucester Fishermen Athletic Association is a nonprofit group that was founded to support Gloucester's public schools, in particular athletics and related activities for the city's youths.
The Pine Street Inn is a nonprofit organization committed to men, women, and children in need of shelter, sustenance, and the basic moral and material supports necessary to lead a dignified and stable life.
Based in Gloucester, Wellspring House works to meet basic human needs and participate in social change through the provision of emergency shelter for families, education, job training, affordable housing and family support programs.
The day of the Gloucester Triathlon is the signature moment, but there will be countless clinics, fund-raisers and beneficial byproducts of hosting the event.
"We want to get beginners involved in the sport," noted Burnett. "The training clinics will show them how to handle it and what to expect."
With so many converging on Cape Ann that weekend, Ricci-Munn sees a great opportunity for Gloucester and neighboring towns to earn some tourism dollars.
"The triathlon will definitely sell out within a month; word of it is already spreading like crazy," Ricci-Munn said. "What I'm hoping is that it will bring a lot of money into the city and generate plenty of money for the Gloucester Fishermen Athletic Association, the Pine Street Inn and Wellspring House."
Burnett said he expects people from Connecticut, New York and throughout the Northeast for the event.
Plus, cheering on the athletes is one of the most important duties of the whole day, organizers said.
Richard Slate can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
ABOUT THE RACE
Information about the Gloucester Triathlon can be found online at gloucestertri.com.
Registration for the event starts at 9 a.m. Monday and a total of between 850 and 1,000 male and female competitors are expected.
Space is limited and registration is available online.